|For a quick overview of Nepal by the BBC, click here
Arrived after 10 PM into Kathmandu and caught a taxi straight to our hotel after a long wait in immigration to pay $100 US each for 90-day entry into the country. Very interesting process through immigration and customs - no real checking, but happy to take our money.
Quite a surreal experience to arrive at night with the power out (we've come to learn the electricity is unreliable at best, and is off for ~16 hours on any given day). Without any street lights or lights on in homes or shops, it was hard to see where we were going as the taxi worked to navigate what seemed to be very bad, bumpy roads and side streets.
Morning light revealed a very old, busy and interesting city. Oh - and VERY NOISY!! I'm sure we will be discussing the noise issue further during a later posting. Kathmandu has a population of well over 1 million people (and at least as many dogs and chickens). Packs of dogs seem to compete at night (only after you've gotten yourself comfortably into bed does the cacophony begin) with a serious of barks, yelps, fights and non-ending noise. At one point one of the dogs howled-on for over 2 hours. I love dogs, but had I a weapon of any kind and a visible target, that puppy would have been toast! The chickens, of course, begin their games at first light. Even though it initially seems like it is completely random, there does appear to be a strict noise production timetable. Again, thankful for earplugs.
First impression is also that it is fairly dirty here compared to other developing countries we've visited. Spitting and blowing snot onto the street is commonplace (not only gross, but a bit of a health hazard given high rates of TB here). Pollution is also a problem from exhaust, trash thrown onto the streets, dog, goat, cow and occasional human excrement everywhere (I do not like Nepali dogs - can you tell?) Everything is relative though as we've met quite a few people coming from India who proclaim how clean and calm the city is and how happy they are to be here. Has caused a bit of trepidation about our upcoming visit to India...
Spent 3 days around the city sorting out our plans, permits and supplies for our upcoming hike around the Annapurna region of the Himalayas.
Caught a six hour "A/C Tourist Bus" to Dumre (faithful readers - you all realize the folly of believing this would be anything other than a hot and sticky, antique bus packed to the gills with humanity where AC means the windows open) where we transferred to a 2 hour local bus to Besisahar - the starting point of our trek.